After a very long day - and overnight flight - we arrived in Dublin, Ireland on Saturday morning. Mike and I were here 5 years ago (check out our blog from 2012!) and this time we're meeting Mike's brother Wayne and his wife Colleen for a 2-week adventure that includes time in Dublin, a 5-day motorcycle trip, and 4 days' hiking.
We hit the ground running, trying to convince ourselves that we weren't sleep-deprived, with our first stop in Temple Bar for lunch and Irish beer. Fortified, we set off off on the Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour, dodging the rain as we went.
Next up was the Christ Church Cathedral, founded around 1030 AD by the Vikings. It has a long history of renovations, additions, rebuilding, and switching religions based on the whims of whoever conquered Ireland.
I love wandering through old churches, admiring the intricate craftsmanship and decorations, the gorgeous stained glass windows that even on a cloudy and rainy day radiated sunlight, and thinking about the millions of people who have walked these floors over hundreds of years.
Dublin's winding cobblestone streets make walking around the old part of the city a lot of fun. We ran out of the rain into the Dublin Castle, built in the 1200's and rebuilt several times over the centuries as it changed functions from a Norman castle, to a military fortress, prison, and seat of English administration.
We continued on the bus, enjoying the drivers' commentary and stories about the buildings we passed. After a short nap, we finished the evening with dinner at Lott's Cafe Bar and live music at The Merchant's Arch, a building dating from 1821 just across the Ha'penny Bridge from our hotel.
After a very welcome sleep in a real bed instead of trying to scrunch up and sleep in an airplane seat, we started Sunday by walking to the Guinness Storehouse tour.
Our self-guided tour started at 9:45am, which may seem a wee bit early to sample Guinness, but by the time we wandered through 5 floors of Guinness history and brewmaking demonstrations, we were ready to sample a pint in the Gravity Bar, a round, glass enclosed space 7 stories above Dublin.
Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease in 1759 when he started brewing beer in this same spot in Dublin, and over the years the brewery grew from 5 acres to 62 acres in the heart of Dublin. We learned how water, barley, yeast - and one additional ingredient, hops - are combined to make Guinness.
We climbed down the stairs at Guinness back to ground level, and rode the Hop-on, Hop-off bus around Dublin, sitting on the top deck of the greendouble-decker bus whenever it wasn't raining. Our next stop was a tour of the Teeling Distillery, where descendants of the original Teeling family are once again distilling whiskey in Dublin.
Once again, we learned that water, barley and yeast are combined to produce whiskey. Teeling whiskey, like all Irish whiskey, is triple-distilled to make it extra smooth, and then aged for at least 6 years to develop the unique flavors.
To continue with the theme of sampling Dublin's alcohol history, we stopped for a very late lunch at Ryan's Bar to celebrate the return of the Ryan brothers to Ireland.
After a very welcome early evening nap, we enjoyed dinner in the Temple Bar area, choosing to make this an early evening so we can pack and get ready for our motorcycle trip that starts tomorrow. Instead of walking or riding a bus, we'll be on BMW motorcycles, wandering around Ireland. Stay tuned!